This film image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Bryan Cranston, left, as Jack O’Donnell and Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez in “Argo,” a rescue thriller about the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. (AP Photo/Warner Bros., Claire Folger)
A movie about the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis probably doesn’t sound like it would be a laugh riot — or should be — but that’s just one of the many ways in which “Argo” is a glorious, gripping surprise.
Directing his third feature, Ben Affleck has come up with a seamless blend of detailed international drama and breathtaking suspense, with just the right amount of dry humor to provide context and levity. He shows a deft handling of tone, especially in making difficult transitions between scenes in Tehran, Washington and Hollywood, but also gives one of his strongest performances yet in front of the camera as the film’s star.
It’s exciting to see the confidence with which Affleck expands his ambition and scope as a filmmaker. His first two movies, “Gone Baby Gone” (2007) and “The Town” (2010), were both smart and suspenseful, but both were intimate crime thrillers set within the familiarity of his hometown of Boston. “Argo” reveals his further mastery of pacing and storytelling, even as he juggles complicated set Login to read more